pour my heart out.
Now I'm not a pro at this by any stretch, but before my sweetie and I were married, I made it very clear to him that there were a few things I didn't want in our home. Being completely smitten, I think he would have agreed to anything, but I didn't want to take any chances.
When we were kids, my parents figured the best way to raise a bunch of Super-Over-Achievers was to put them in constant competition with each other. And I suppose it worked to a certain degree...except that I always came out of everything feeling resentful and like I wasn't good enough. Or if I did come out on top, I was boastful and irritating. This didn't exactly lend itself to a harmonious home environment.
So one of my stipulations as a brand-new bride was that we would never encourage our children to be better than their siblings. I wanted them to help and lift and love each other, and if the Super-Over-Achiever happened, great. If not, oh well.
Now I don't even pretend to know all there is to know about motherhood. In fact, the older I get, the more I realize just how clueless I am. But people comment all the time about how well my kids get along with each other and that's because in everything we do, family is most important.
I don't put up with fighting, name-calling or belittling. If the kids get caught fighting, they are immediately sentenced to do a job together. If they can't work together, they are assigned separate but much harder jobs. Usually they settle their differences pretty quickly.
On our recent trip to Vernal, we were horsing around in the pool at the hotel. The Prima Donna thought it might be fun to dunk Sport. He didn't think so...he came up sputtering and bawling. My sweetie thought she ought to be sentenced to a deck chair for ten minutes. No way! That was too easy. I told her she had to haul Sport around the entire pool on her back three times. She grumbled a little at first, but by the second lap they were laughing and playing and having a good time.
My mantra has always been to preserve the relationship at all costs. Sometimes saying "I'm sorry," can be as hard as saying "Hippopotamus," but those words can make all the difference.
I also encourage my kids to serve each other. In the book "Cheaper by the Dozen," they talk about assigning an older child to a younger child to make sure things happen. I am a great delegator! For a while we had specific olders assigned to specific youngers, but now I like to mix it up so they all get a chance to help each other.
I am constantly on the prowl for problems and broken relationships so I can help the kids repair them. I want their siblings to be their best friends.
How do you keep your kids from fighting?